Art + creative action for peace


The arts can play a vital role in healing and building connections, which is why we try to incorporate different forms of the expressive arts in our peacebuilding programs. They can play a critical role in helping heal and nurture the human spirit, especially during difficult times.

Creating and sharing art brings the power to bring communities together, help heal traumas, change attitudes, and ignite hope.

Whether it’s singing, weaving, doing community theater, stenciling murals, or creating videos: the stories we tell to each other, and the projects we make with our own hands, matter deeply. 

Here are a few examples we have to share:

Community dramas & murals

Theater (photo above) is the newest addition to the Protecting Our Communities Initiative (POCI), in Nigeria! These public dramas bring the community together to explore the project’s community-based peacebuilding systems. 

Community members have also been working with the project team to create murals—”peace walls”—that celebrate their hard work for lasting peace. In this video, Dikshik Lucky Philip, a mental health specialist at Neem Foundation, explains the peace wall process:

Creative Influencing

Under military rule, community activists in Myanmar have continued their work for peace and human rights. Participants in our Watering the Banyan Tree project have been learning about “creative influencing” strategies, and then designing campaigns to expand their reach.

Below: Watch an animated story about children’s rights, or a music video about respecting the rights of diverse women fleeing violence — both produced by participating organizations in Myanmar. Another cohort of organizations is preparing for a second round of campaigns this summer. Some influencing strategies are in-person, some are online.

This animated story in the Myanmar language was created to expand awareness about the rights of children: not only to basic necessities, but also to genuinely participate in the world around them.

This music video—after a brief intro in the Rakhine language—challenges the viewer to respect and defend the rights of all women, particularly women of different ethnicities who have fled violence and are living in IDP camps:

Expressive Therapy

The Protecting Our Communities Initiative has been setting up peacebuilding systems in 18 communities impacted by farmer-herder conflicts, kidnapping attacks, and other dangers. These threats take a heavy toll on people. A lasting peace respects survivors’ need to heal.

Individual and group therapy, combined with expressive therapy such as weaving, is providing relief in our project areas where mental health services are scarce.Our partner in Nigeria, Neem Foundation, has extensive experience providing innovative community-based mental health services in areas affected by complex conflicts.

In these videos, participants in expressive therapy talk about their progress:

Monica Tsor, a psychosocial support counselor with Neem Foundation, explains the Protecting Our Community Initiative’s community-based psychosocial support:

Please invest in the work of frontline peacebuilders by making a donation today to support our partnerships in Myanmar, Nigeria, the U.S, and other areas impacted by violence worldwide!

Invest in sustainable peace

You can support these initiatives to develop peace in communities impacted by conflict, with a gift to Karuna Center today. Thank you!


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